In the context of Environmental Ethics, Ecofeminism can be defined as a set of philosophies and movements that recognize interconnections between environmental issues and feminist concerns.
The course will introduce the philosophies and practices of transnational ecofeminist movements and will analyze various approaches that the interconnection between gender and ecology is capable of originating in different cultural contexts and globally.
Ecofeminism considers to which extent the domination of nature and the domination of women insist on the same paradigm, that presents a hierarchical division of beings, a separation between nature and culture that correspond to a binary division between genders, in which “nature” and “women” (as well as other form of gendered identities) are devaluated, and anthropocentrism – which in fact take the shape of androcentrism, since “man” is considered as the norm and other subjectivities as “deviances”.
The term was created in 1974 by Francoise D'Eaubonne and ecofeminist activism grew during the 1980s and 1990s among women from the anti-nuclear, environmental, and lesbian- feminist movements. Today, Ecofeminism in its plurality of aspects (including antispecism, activism against neoliberal natural exploitations and consequences of climate changes, revivals of indigenous knowledge and non –dualistic cosmovisions) constitutes a fundamental part of transnational feminist movements.
Even though at its inception the Ecofeminist approach was criticized for presenting rather essentialistic assumptions of concepts such as “woman” and “nature”, contemporary ecofeminist movements – at least some of them – are displaying intersectional, intercultural and transnational standpoints and methodologies.
As both an ecological philosophy and a social movement, ecofeminism embodies a multifaceted critique of global environmental politics. In contrast to mainstream approaches to global environmental politics, which focus on the role of the nation state or institutions in global, collective efforts to protect and manage the natural environment, feminist critiques emphasize the contextualized experiences of women in politics. Specifically, Ecofeminism has made critical and significant contributions to the discourses on environmental ethics and the interrelationships among gender, environment, and development, unveiling the importance of theoretically and practically contrasting “Monocultures of Mind”, as Vandana Shiva suggests. The necessity of overcoming the dualistic vision of the Nature-Culture relation and patriarchism stimulates also a critical reflection on mainstream scientific approach in “the West”, that challenges presuppositions on the way scientific research should be conducted, and results in original theoretical and practical contributions, such as Donna Haraway’s and Braidotti’s theory of zoecentrism and naturcultural continuum or Jane Goodall empathic approach to biology and ethology.
Thanks to the endorsement of Post-Colonial and De-colonial perspectives. Ecofeminist discourses progressively recognize the importance of enhancing the role of women who belongs to indigenous and rural communities, coming especially from the “Global South”. It has been aknowledged that indigenous and peasant women (as well as women involved in fishery, forest and environmental conservation), women of low income communities of colour are taking the brunt of contemporary ecologic crisis that originates from neoliberal criteria of exploitation. Basing on different cosmovisions and rationales vis-a-vis the so-called “Western anthropocentrism/anercentrism”, the knowledge gained throughout centuries by women belonging to cultures often labelled as “undeveloped” by a colonialistic and ethnocentric logic is on the contrary considered as fundamental in providing analysis and possible solutions to contextual and global environmental issues.
The Course will provide an introduction to the central themes of ecofeminist theory and praxis.
It will briefly summarize history of Ecofeminism adopting an intercultural and a glocal perspective, presenting how theories and movements that can be ascribed to this approach stem from diverse cultural contexts and find ways to interact and to create an original arena for poli-logical discussion and platforms for actions.
It will then explores the connection between the economic development of the natural world and women's (as well as other “feminized” subjectivities’) status and roles worldwide and analyzes Case Studies that shows how women agency is gaining momentum in protecting the environment, providing models for sustainable development, establishing gender equality and developing mutually enhancing human-earth relations.
The Course will show to which extent Ecofeminist transnational activism has provided a basis for understanding the utility of gender analyses for global environmental politics (GEP) to be adopted by International Agencies.
The Course will use philosophical, anthropological, historical literature to provide students with theoretical bases. Video material (short documentaries and movies, interviews, ethnographies) will be shown to stimulate critical discussion in class. Students are required to actively participate, presenting examples of how the connection between gender and ecological issues is interpreted in their cultural context of origin.
1) Challenging the Nature/Culture Paradigm and the Gendered Division on the World.
2) Ecofeminisms: a brief intercultural history.
3) The Chipko Movement in India. A case Study.
4) Bio and Cultural diversity Vs Monocultures of Mind: Vandana Shiva.
5) Gender and Ecology in the context of International Agencies.
6) Ecofeminism and the Posthuman: creating kinship from a zoecentric perspective. Donna Haraway and Rosi Braidotti.
7) Jane Goodall: doing Science with Chimps.
8) Transnational Ecofeminist Movements.
9) New Amazons: Indigenous Women protecting the Forest
10) Female Rangers and Anti Poach Movement in Africa
11) The Women of Standing Rock: protesting against the Dakota Access Pipeline
- Braidotti, R. Ewa Charkiewicz, Sabine Hausler, and Saskia Wieringa, (1994) Women, the Environment and Sustainable Development. London: Zed Press.
-Davis, K. (2018). Are feminists right to resist comparison with the females of other species? Animals 24/7.
- Gaard, G. (2015). Ecofeminism and climate change. Women’s Studies International Forum, 49
- Giacomini, T. (2018). The 2017 United Nations climate summit: Women fighting for system change and building the Commons at COP23 in Bonn, Germany. Capitalism Nature Socialism, 29(1), 114-117
-Haraway, D (1991) "A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the Late Twentieth Century, in Simians, Cyborgs, and Women. The Reinvention of Nature, Free Association Books, London. 149-83.
-Kings, A.E. (2017). Intersectionality and the changing face of ecofeminism. Ethics & the Environment, 22(1), 63-87.
- Mies, M. and Vandana Shiva (1993) Ecofeminism, Fernwood Publications, Halifax, Nova Scotia
-Nixon, L. (2015). Eco-feminist appropriations of Indigenous feminisms and environmental violence. The Feminist Wire.
- Park-Sutherland, T. (2018). Ecofeminist activism and the greening of Native America. American Studies in Scandinavia, 50(1), 123-149.
-Vandana Shiva, (2011) Monocultures of the Mind: Perspectives on Biodiversity, Natraj Publishers
-Vandana Shiva (1987) The Chipko Movement Against Limestone Quarrying in Doon Valley, Lokayan Bulletin, 5: 3, 1987, pp. 19–25
-Warren, K. (2000). Key features of an ecofeminist ethic. Ecofeminist philosophy: A Western perspective on what it is and why it matters (pp. 98-102). Lanham, MA: Rowman & Littlefield.
- Wilson, K. (2005). Ecofeminism and First Nations peoples in Canada: Linking culture, gender and nature. Gender, Place, and Culture, 12(3), 333-355